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2007 Practical Activism Conference at UCSC (10/27)
by banana slug
Sunday Oct 21st, 2007 8:37 PM
This year's conference will take place on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2007.

Practical Activism is a free, student-led conference providing learning opportunities and tools to create local and global change.
This day-long conference takes place at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Workshops, Speakers, Tabling Organizations, Creative Activism Activities, Live Music, and More.

Schedule of the conference

workshop descriptions & titles:

session one: 1:00pm - 2:15pm

"Pass the Teargas: Student Activism at UCSC:"
UCSC Alumni and former UC Alumni Regent, Gary Novack, and History of Consciousness graduate student, Gregory Caldwell, will facilitate an interactive discussion about what it means to be a student activist in today's socio-political climate. This workshop will also cover the history of activism on our campus and effective ways to have your activism make a difference.

"Across the Border: A Critical Look at Immigration"
This workshop will focus on the impact of immigration on the US economy and other aspects of our society, while debunking myths about immigration. Locally, it will address the ICE Raids in Watsonville and also provide students the means to get involved in the community. Guest speakers include Latin American and Latino Studies professors Jonathan Fox and Jose Palafox in addition to Ramiro Medrano of MigraWatch in Watsonville.

"Transgender Prisoners: Trapped in a Gender Binary"
Rashad Shabazz, doctoral student in the History of Consciousness Department and prison abolitionist, will speak about the discrimination and hardships that transgender prisoners face in todayís penal system. Issues revolving around the gender binary, sexuality, and the prison industrial complex will also be discussed.

"Crimes Against Humanity: Hurricanes Katrina & Rita"
The mainstream mediaís representation of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita is quite possibly inaccurate, most notably in terms of the general understanding of the immediate rescue and relief given to New Orleans residents and the cityís current state. This workshop will provide a (re)education of government actions in response to the hurricanes as well as providing ways you can contribute to the recovery of New Orleans and itís citizens.

"Buyer Be-Aware: Being a Conscious Consumer"
This workshop will foster awareness and provide tools regarding our responsibilities as consumers in the local and global communities. Professor Dana Frank and student activists will discuss the global history of consumerism and address sustainable and social consumer movements.

session Two: 2:25pm - 3:40pm

"The Absence of Color"
This workshop focuses on the lack of an Ethnic Studies department at UC Santa Cruz, the only UC without such a program. We hope to promote awareness of and encourage a dialogue around the current academic atmosphere on campus. Guest speaker Paul Ortiz will engage the audience in thinking in terms of the current ìabsence of colorî at UCSC.

"Privatization of Water: Owning Water, Owning Life"
Is water a right or a privilege? Who has access to water and who does not? This workshop will delve into the issues lurking around water privatization, who it affects and how they survive within these conditions. Professor Ben Crow and student activists will show how complicated and difficult it is for some people just to have basic access to this necessity, and what you can do to bring awareness to others and make a difference.

"Defending Our Campus: Armed Students?"
James Armstead, Law of War professor at UCSC, will lead a discussion and Q and A session focusing on international gun control politics, specifically their relevance to college campuses domestically and abroad.

"Act for Change: Tools for Empowerment"
While not all members of our community have access to or a voice within the electorate system, this workshop will provide tangible ways in which individuals can work within this system to make change. Learn to write a bill, get involved in advising elected officials, and find your voice.

"Girl Fight: Challenging Racism & Sexism in the Media"
Popular culture is constantly affecting us in ways that we are unaware of. This interactive workshop featuring professor Francesca Guerra will explore the ways in which we are sold racist and sexist propaganda and will inspire you to look at the media with a critical eye.
§Angela Y. Davis biography
by banana slug Sunday Oct 21st, 2007 8:37 PM
Through her activism and her scholarship over the last decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in our nation’s quest for social justice. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality.

Professor Davis’ teaching career has taken her to San Francisco State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley. She has also taught at UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University. She has spent the last fifteen years at the University of California Santa Cruz where she is Professor of History of Consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D program, and Professor of Feminist Studies.

Angela Davis is the author of eight books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” She has also conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. Her most recent books are Abolition Democracy and Are Prisons Obsolete? She is now completing a book on Prisons and American History.

Angela Davis is a member of the executive board of the Women of Color Resource Center, a San Francisco Bay Area organization that emphasizes popular education – of and about women who live in conditions of poverty. She also works with Justice Now, which provides legal assistance to women in prison and engages in advocacy for the abolition of imprisonment as the dominant strategy for addressing social problems. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, a similar organization based in Queensland, Australia.

Like many other educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

Just curious here - they did the same thing for the last "UC activism conference", which they scheduled on the same day as a major anti-war protest in San Francisco - and they're doing the same thing this time.

Any ideas why? Is this scheduling just a coincidence?
by guesser
Monday Oct 22nd, 2007 2:30 PM
I'm upset about this too, but I can't blame anyone. My guess is that both the protest and the conference were scheduled for the 3rd Saturday in October. I imagine the date was set for the conference before the October 27 Coalition set a date for the anti-war protest. I am torn between both events, but I'm going to the conference, a local event to bring more activists into the mix. But yes, it is disappointing that we must choose either the protest or the conference. And of course, better to have two good choices, than none at all.
by Ike Solem
Friday Oct 26th, 2007 1:40 PM
Really, the main issues at the University these days that people are interested in include:

1) The wisdom of the Long-Range Development Plan - in particular, their emphasis on a new $80 million dollar biomedical science building, as well as the planned development in the upper campus, traffic and housing and water supply issues that affect the City of Santa Cruz, local businesses, and student class sizes. Seems like a bad idea all around.

2) Student loan issues - in particular, the raises in tuition costs, and the relationship between the banks offering the loans and the UC Regents - is this a kickback issue? Why isn't the state AG looking into these relationships? Considering the recent subprime collapse, shouldn't some of these usurious college loans be examined as well? Is it really wise to have students get out of college saddled with massive debt?

3) The takeover of the university by large corporate interests, which is most evident in Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering - but whose corrupting influence is pervading the University at large. The obsession with patenting everything, the administration agenda (which seems to be heading in the direction of privatizing the University of California) - all very complicated, but also very questionable. Faculty at the UC know that this is going on, but are afraid to discuss it for fear of losing their jobs.

4) The University of California investment portfolio. Guess who's invested in Burma, Israel, Saudi Arabia, China and other kinda-sorta repressive regimes? Obviously a complex topic with many different viewpoints - but certainly worth discussing, isn't it? There was a South African divestment campaign in the 1980s at the UC, right?

The whole thing seems a little fishy. The above four issues are far more important than what's been cooked up for this conference.
by high horse
Friday Oct 26th, 2007 2:15 PM
There is not a list of 'approved topics.' There is a list of workshops. There's a difference between 'approved topics' and a list of workshops. Make your good points, but come down from the high horse. This conference is organized by students, not the regents. I have not heard about a workshop being denied that the student organizers wanted to have. I agree with your list of issues! However, you seem arrogant when you write, "The above four issues are far more important than what's been cooked up for this conference." Are you a transgender student? Has your family been deported by la migra? Should there be more awareness about what it means to be an "AB 540 student"?
by Ike Solem
Saturday Oct 27th, 2007 10:17 AM
Sure, those issues are important to various people - but I think it's pretty clear that the University doesn't want to see any open discussion of their internal power structure. I mean, here you have a university administration that is incredibly secretive and non-transparent, yet is sponsoring a "activism" conference that ignores any of the real issues surrounding the university itself.

Really, the levels of fear and paranoia on campus among the faculty are remarkable. Noone dares to oppose the administration agenda, for the very understandable reason that they don't want to lose their jobs or their positions. You've got rampant conflicts of interest in the physical and natural sciences due to the obsession with patents; you've got graduate students who can't talk about the proprietary research they're doing under nondisclosure agreements with corporate entities - and you've got a chancellor who claims that "patenting is a public service." Huh?

Essentially, the university is trying to turn itself into a corporate for-profit business concern - for example, see this story: Ivory Towers Fire Back Over Patents, Margaret Cronin Fisk, The National Law Journal, 08-28-2002

Now, academics have engaged in consulting for private business ever since the first U.S. academic institution was formed (for example, it was a consulting arrangement between Benjamin Silliman Jr., a Yale chemistry professor, and private investors in 1855 that kicked of the U.S. petroleum industry). However, such activities were outside the university. What's going on now is an attempt to turn the university into a business concern.

Why is this problematic? Businesses rely heavily on protecting their trade secrets and proprietary information. Academic institutions are dedicated to the free and open exchange of information. There's a fundamental conflict of interest there.

You've got a lot of professors and administrators running around trying to set up private businesses (in partnership with large corporate entities) that they themselves are investing in, while doing research aimed at benefiting those businesses using public funds. It's a huge mess - insider trading, various conflicts of interest . . .and teaching students? Who has time for that? Get the lecturers and graduate students to deal with that little detail.